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HOLDEN UTES & A WORLD RECORD: Classic Restos - Series 48

By Shannons - Published on 30 August 2021

Fletch travels to Winton Raceway in Victoria and chats with the operations manager, Holden Motorsport legend Jeff Grech. 

His motorsport credentials speak for themselves, but while at Holden Motorsport, Jeff was part of the world record attempt by a Holden VF SS Ute to set a lap record at the Nurburgring in 2013 to become the fastest ever commercial /utility at the world-renown circuit. After 35 laps and 720 km, the VF Ute recorded an 8:19:47 lap, a new world record for a commercial vehicle/utility, putting a few European noses out of joint at the same time. 

There's nothing like the sound of a naturally aspirated 6 litre Aussie V8. Fletch gets to drive the VF World Record Ute around Winton, not quite the Nurburgring, but who cares. 

This episode is all about a Holden Utes; from the first Holden FJ Ute in 1951, Fletch catches up with John from Goulburn, who has completed a full restoration of his FJ and is in Concours condition today. 

The FJ was the very beginning of Australia's love affair with utes. Fletch takes us on a chronological history of Holdens Utes with some early drawings, photos and details of their distinctive features, like the FE in '56, then the FC in '58. It became clear that Holden would include a station wagon and ute on every future model release. The ute models regularly followed with the new look FB & EK models in '60 and '61. And then models that are classics today, the EJ and EH models of '63 and '64, saw the introduction of dramatic styling change and new 149 and 179 Red engines. With popularity growing, the models keep coming in '65 the HD and HR models with new 161 and 186 engines followed by the HK/HT/HG models in late '60s with Belmont and Kingswood models and V8 powerplants. HT/HG, and in '71, the HQ & Sandman models introduced a whole new contemporary styling; the Sandman became an instant hit with the Australian Surfing community. The HJ and HX models of '74 and '76 looked identical, apart from the lower emissions of the HX ute, a sign of things to come. Then everything changed with the introduction of Holdens RTS (Radial Tuned Suspension), now the ute handled as good as they looked. But like all good things, they come to an end, and the '80 WB Ute was the last of Holden Ute to fly the flag. Gone but never forgotten. A great recollection of Australia's fascination with Holden Utes.